How Computers Help Biologists Hack Life’s Secrets

Once the three-billion-letter-long human genome was sequenced, we rushed into a new “omics” era of biological research. Scientists are now racing to sequence the genomes (all the genes) or proteomes (all the proteins) of various organisms—and in the process are compiling massive amounts of data. For instance, a scientist can use “omics” tools such as DNA sequencing to tease out which human genes are affected in a viral flu infection. But because the human genome has at least 25,000 genes in total, the number of genes altered even under such a simple scenario could potentially be in the thousands. Although sequencing and identifying genes and proteins gives them a name and a place, it doesn’t tell us what they do. We need to understand how these genes, proteins and all…


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